We all love customer data and it’s easier to come by than ever before. Think back to data collection methods 50 years ago – from mail-in surveys that had to be hand-logged to stacks of expensive focus group files – and be thankful we have evolved into the era of modern data collection. But with so much data coming in from so many different sources, how can customer support teams harness this information to drive loyalty in the future? Here are three ways…
1. Sit down and make sense of your data to make it actionable
It’s important to remember that all data is not useful data to customer support professionals. Just because the user experience division of your company did a five color A/B test of on-site buttons doesn’t mean you need to incorporate that data into your support strategy. The first thing to do is gather all the data you can and align the data points together that make sense, such as contact response time to a specific customer demand. After this, record how all these data points work together and track or log the information using customer support software or a different solution.
The main way all this strategy and prep drives loyalty is by enabling support to understand customers better. If it’s an easy experience for a customer to contact you because support already knows all their information, such as what products or inventory they have, they will be more likely to reach out again should they require assistance. People in general usually opt for the path of least resistance, and thus they prefer a support experience where it’s easier for you (and your vast knowledge) to help them as compared to flying solo.
2. Drive loyalty by anticipating the needs of your customers
Getting the actual information on your customers can be a big hurdle. But once you clear it, not only will your support team work more efficiently, you can use that information to anticipate future customer needs. For example, if you’re an IT company and you hear maintenance for an old operating system will be discontinued, you can reach out to all your customers with that operating system and let them know.
The impact will be threefold – your customers will think of you as a thought leader for letting them know, you’ll minimize issues related to the old operating system because people will move away from it, and you’ll create an upselling opportunity if you offer an alternative operating system instead. When customers engage with a business, especially in the B2B (business-to-business) industry, they are often looking for not only a solution to their immediate needs but also to build trust with a knowledgeable company in a specialized area. Keep that in mind as you support your customers because being a thought leader can be important to creating loyal customers.
3. Never be fully satisfied with your current amount of data
If you’re standing still with how you collect data, thinking either “we’re good” or “we need to make sense of it all first”, then you’re falling behind your competitors. The direct process of facilitating feedback, even if there’s not a burning piece of information you need immediately, is crucial to driving loyalty. Customers have a voice, and thanks to social media and the internet it’s stronger than ever before. Don’t let customers feel like they lack an easy and official way to contact you, enabling them to leave bad reviews online that can tarnish your reputation for years.
Send out correspondence via email in a timely fashion (some industries demand more feedback opportunities than others) asking your customers for feedback and direct them to a formal questionnaire. Make sure to leave some questions open-ended to let customers expand on their responses. Most importantly, and you’d be shocked at how many companies don’t do this, look at your feedback immediately. You’ll likely find lots of actionable items, with some of them being easy to fix, that you can share with the rest of your company. Don’t forget to reference the feedback you collected when you make changes – statements such as “based on customer feedback” in a product or service update go a long way in saying you take customer feedback seriously.
In conclusion, you can utilize customer support data to drive loyalty by organizing the data and making it actionable. Use the data to predict the future needs of your customers and show them you understand their needs. Finally, don’t forget to keep your data fresh and actionable, especially by immediately evaluating customer feedback. Data has come a long way with technology, but making sense of it and more importantly how to use it will give you a competitive advantage over companies making non-data driven decisions.
Robert C. Johnson, CEO of TeamSupport
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